Amid the pandemic, Texans experienced devastating effects of the recent polar vortex that their state is not equipped to handle. Thousands were left without power or heat for days as temperatures dipped and their roads were left dangerous to travel on. Businesses and homeowners are dealing with the damage of burst pipes and lost wages as many areas shut down. But while many families were literally left in the dark, there are always people finding ways to help others.
Raymond Garcia of Houston, Texas, found himself without power at home and decided to use his time helping others. He visited people in his community and helped fix their burst pipes. Garcia said he was inspired by the teaching of his mother, who died recently from COVID-19. “My mom always taught me, if you help and you give to people, God will always bless you,” he said. “And you know what, I’ve been blessed.” When the power outages meant a Foodarama grocery store in Houston could no longer accept credit and debit card payments, an unidentified man began handing out $20 bills to people waiting in the line. It’s estimated that the man who did not want to be identified, handed out nearly $500 that day. Meanwhile, in San Antonio TX, another good Samaritan at the Martini Ranch bar put on a free grill complete with lobster bisque for anyone in need of a meal. “Just grilling away out front to provide some people with a free hot plate,” he said in a social media post. “Stay safe out there San Antonio.”
Chelsea Timmons was making her last food delivery of the day in Austin TX, when her car got stuck on the frozen driveway of Nina Richardson and Doug Condon after sliding on the incline and hitting a bush. Timmons had planned to return home but when she called AAA, all their tow trucks were busy responding to emergencies. Richardson and Condon, strangers to her, offered her their guest room and Timmons ended up spending five nights there. Richardson and Condon worried that even if she made it home safely, she’d still be struggling upon returning to her home that had no power.
Bonnie Valdez of San Antonio posted to Facebook to say that she had found around $620 put through the door of her store after leaving a stack of around 140 water bottles outside of her store overnight for people to take during the crisis. Another Texan, Ryan Sivley said he didn’t hesitate to help when he spotted hundreds of drivers in need on the side of the icy roads in Austin. Sivley used his four wheel drive vehicles to rescue drivers stuck on the side of roads— all without asking for anything in return. “I’ve seen wreckers turning people away because they won’t pull them out due to liability. You need to stay in your car and just freeze to death? If I was in that spot, I would beg and hope that somebody would help me. So that’s what I did.”
Another Houston hero, Jim McIngvale, better known locally as Mattress Mack- opened two of his furniture stores to be used as warming centers. He urged extreme caution for those travelling to the showrooms, and said COVID-19 protocols would be followed, including mask-wearing, and food would be provided. “Anybody who needs it—whether they’re homeless, whether they lost power, whether it’s just wanting to come in and get something to eat—anybody wants to come in, we’re here for them.” McIngvale also turned over some of his stores to be used as evacuation centers during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 so he’s no stranger to helping his community during times of need.
While power has been restored in nearly two million homes, TX remains embroiled in the aftermath of the worst winter storm to strike the Lone Star State in decades. These are just a few examples of good people in the world who, during times of crisis, seek ways to help others even if they struggling through the same crisis. Even the smallest, self-less act gives others hope in the worst times and encourages others who make not think they can make a difference or have much to offer-realize that they can.